Light heavyweight Jon Jones became the latest person to offer a take on the matter during Tuesday’s news conference in Toronto to promote his Sept. 21 title defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165.
“He’s got to the point where he really believes in his gift, and he abused his gift,” Jones said of Silva. “He disrespected the gift by disrespecting his opponent.
“He just got disrespectful and the war gods made him pay for it. He’s still that great Anderson Silva in my book.”
Watching the one mixed martial artist he looks up to go down in a heap remains difficult for Jones to accept. Upon reflection, however, Jones is using Silva’s demise as inspiration, and a personal warning, moving forward.
Jones (18-1) is determined not to let his success in the cage cause him to lose focus.
“It [Silva’s loss] actually motivates me a lot to watch somebody who I look up to lose,” Jones said. “It’s a reality check. I try to keep my ego in check when it comes to the fight game.
“Watching Anderson lose like that, first of all, it’s something I would never do: put my hands down and fight my opponent that way. But watching Chris Weidman’s dream come true, I have to make sure to be a dream crusher.”
Jones is expected to retain his title against Gustafsson; he’s considered too rangy, too talented and too strong. Now add a more focused Jones to the equation and a Gustafsson upset becomes less likely.
Despite being a prohibitive underdog, Gustafsson will receive the “very dangerous foe” treatment. And he should. Gustafsson has demonstrated steady improvement with each fight.
He is currently riding a six-fight win streak that has put him at or near the top of the 205-pound contender rankings. Gustafsson (15-1) is ranked third among light heavyweights by ESPN.com.